Elder Neil L. Andersen shares stage with President Michael Crow at ASU

Credit: Scott P. Adair
Credit: Scott P. Adair
Credit: Scott P. Adair
Credit: Scott P. Adair
Credit: Scott P. Adair


Highlighting the need for higher education and encouraging high school students to consider Arizona State University as an option, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared the stage with ASU President Michael Crow in the school’s first LDS Family Education Night on campus Jan. 26.

“Education is deep inside our doctrine. We are not just concerned about what we’re going to do, but what we are going to become,” Elder Andersen said.

He explained that there was a time when the Church was small and Brigham Young University served a purpose in not only providing Latter-day Saints a place to gain an education but also a place that young people with the same beliefs could find others to associate with and eventually marry.

“For those living in this area, there is no longer a need to run somewhere else to meet others,” he said, noting that in the metro Phoenix area there are five young adult stakes.

“ASU and other local schools should be considered among the very attractive options available to you,” Elder Andersen told the audience of nearly 3,000 junior and senior high school students and their parents.

“Here you’re surrounded with hundreds of wonderful young people who have the same beliefs you do, along with a world-class university where you can learn and grow, have the diversity of students and professors, and a welcoming institution like we have here at ASU,” said Elder Andersen.

President Crow responded, “We’ve worked very hard at ASU to not only make it a world-class institution built around discovery and creativity and advanced learning systems and all the things that a modern learner needs but we’ve also taken great lengths to make certain that Latter-day Saints are welcome and have all of the religious education opportunities that go along with the technical areas of the university education in a seamless interface,” he said.

After coming to ASU in 2002, President Crow quickly changed policy that prohibited students who were awarded scholarships to retain them while they served full-time missions.

After years of unsuccessfully trying to work with university officials, the Church with President Crow was also able to acquire additional land and construct a new, spacious institute building with an adjacent multi-level parking structure in the heart of the campus.

“A person’s family and their faith are just as important as anything else that we will do, and we’ve created an environment where all of those things can occur at the same time and the same place,” President Crow said, receiving loud applause from the audience.

Also joining in the “fireside chat” hosted by ASU in the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium was Elder Robert C. Gay of the Seventy and his wife, Lynette. Elder Gay serves as chairman of the Church’s Self-Reliance Services/PEF Committee, which helps members in many countries throughout the world to become more independent and able to provide for their families.

Elder Gay, who has a Ph.D. in business economics from Harvard University, said that he learned from his own life and in seeing poverty around the world the importance of taking advantage of every educational opportunity.

“The only way out is education,” he said.

He shared an important lesson he learned from his own father, who said: “In the world of faith you always stand at the crossroads. Are you going to take the talents and skills and abilities that you have and use them to go out and bless the world or are you going to be content to stand on the sidelines?”

Sister Gay added, “It would be such a shame not to take advantage of getting an education. It’s a gift that so many in the world do not have.”

Elder Andersen cautioned college students, however, to avoid debt if possible, especially as undergraduates.

“This is an issue that you would want to be thoughtful about,” he said.

Serving as moderator, Derrick M. Anderson, an advisor to President Crow, asked the panel questions and the four took turns answering. In the last 30 minutes, students in the audience were invited to stand and ask questions.

One student asked about making hard decisions in educational choices.

“Stay humble; stay prayerful,” Elder Andersen replied. “And try to put your lives in order so when you are on your knees alone at night without anybody watching and you lift your voice to Heavenly Father, you can feel His direction.”

High school junior Monique Sherman attended the event and said she learned a lot from the speakers and is considering attending ASU.

“The world pushes you to get a job and make lots of money,” she said. “I learned that you should focus on learning about the things that make you happy and the spiritual person you want to become.”

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